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Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated

by Yoga 4 Change, INC
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated
Trauma Informed Yoga for the Incarcerated

Yoga 4 Change has taught program classes to individuals who are experiencing incarceration in Northeast Florida since the organization's inception in 2014.  Due to COVID19, all program classes have been pivoted to be offered virtually.  This transition, although challenging at first, has afforded Yoga 4 Change the opportunity to offer scale programming without the constraints of a brick and mortar space.  Yoga 4 Change will begin virtual programming for individuals involved in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court in Duval County: including Veterans Treatment Court and Drug Court.  4th Circuit Court Judges have committed to sentencing individuals to 6-weeks worth of programming, or will be tying an individual's participation to phase up in speciality courts; get out of jail and onto probation earlier; and as an alterantive to incarceration time.  

Thank you for your continued belief in our organization and our mission to make the impact of the yoag practice accessible to all individuals.  Your support and financial contribution makes a huge impact on the community and allows Yoga 4 Change to reach more individuals.

Thank You!


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Because of COVID19, Yoga 4 Change had to cancel 90% of all programming, moving the remaining 10% to virtual classes. As many of you know, our programs are implemented into facilities such as jails, schools, recovery centers, VA outpatient clinics and community centers by highly-trained, trauma-informed yoga teachers. Many of these facilities closed programming from outside providers or were not able to support virtual programming, which put our organization into financial uncertainty. On March 26th, I had to tell our statewide team, comprised of 5 full-time employees and just over 50 different contractors, that we could not guarantee our contractors any work delivering programming to our students. All program classes across the state were then taught by our full-time employees, myself included.
My goal was to get our contractors back on our schedule by May 6th. To do so, on top of teaching no less than 12 classes per week, Yoga 4 Change leadership accomplished the following: 
·      Obtained funding to compensate 100 different yoga teachers: We partnered with a donor to compensate both yoga teachers on Y4C's team, and across the country, in order to create virtual content for our YouTube Station.
·      Applied for $102, 613.03 in relief funding: Yoga 4 Change was able to secure the PPP loan and a grant from GlobalGiving, extending our financial 'runway' and allowing quite a bit of stress to be lifted for the short term.
·      Increased collaborations with local community: During the last couple months Yoga 4 Change has focused on partnering with local businesses also affected by COVID-19. As opposed to only focusing on what is best for our organization, we have been able to positively impact local restaurants and artists, putting money in their pocket and sharing what they are up to with our own community (and raising some money along the way).
·      Scale our impact: Having leadership quickly pivot our business model into the virtual environment allowed us to partner with new entities: Teach for America, VyStar Credit Union, Humana, and Seeds for Success. This increase of impact has led to new opportunities and most importantly, the ability to bring our proven methodology to new individuals. Through virtual programming we have been able to reach individuals who are going through a pandemic and who need tools and techniques to deal with everyday stressors.
·      Ensure outcomes were still being hit based on data and shift as necessary: Many of our programs are judged on obtaining outcomes, and leadership focused on ensuring we could reach our goals without sacrificing the integrity of our program. We had to be flexible (pun intended), and also ensure our organization came out of this time period still functioning as we had in the past.
Without the Yoga 4 Change board, our leadership team, our teachers and other contractors, our donors and volunteers - these accomplishments would not be possible. Thank you to everyone who donated, shared, liked, watched, subscribed, prayed and believed in us.
On May 6, we were able to bring back our contractors. This allowed a large portion of our teaching team to get back on the schedule and allowed Yoga 4 Change to assist these teachers in getting back on their feet financially. Although we do not know what the coming months will look like, I know I have a team around me who is able to pivot at a moment’s notice and still maintain the integrity of Yoga 4 Change programming. We have proven the strength of our organization, ensuring we are able to be here for the foreseeable future.
Thank you.
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Hi All -

We hope you are doing well during this uncertain time. Below is our update on Yoga 4 Change programming and our strides in keeping the communities we love and serve healthy and strong.  

The Corona Virus has impacted our organization significantly. 95% of our mission programming across all regions has been canceled due to facility closings and our effort to heed social distancing recommendations. We intend to keep our team as safe as possible and comply with the latest necessary precautions.

Here's the fun news!  Yoga 4 Change has a YouTube channel with classes ranging from chair yoga, mat yoga, kids yoga, meditations, etc. and we are planning to put up content on a more frequent basis. 

Need a moment to yourself?  An active yoga practice?  A kids yoga class to get out some of their energy?  Subscribe to our YouTube channel via the link below. Even if we can’t physically connect with each other, Y4C is committed to ensuring all our students, teachers and communities have access to trauma-informed yoga classes. 

As well as previously recorded yoga classes, Yoga 4 Change is actively working on getting live classes up and running.  This process should be ironed out in the next few days.  Stay up-to-date with classes via our events calendar on


Thank You for your continued support.  

Y4C Team


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Chair Yoga inside the Community Transition Center
Chair Yoga inside the Community Transition Center

WHY DO WE LOVE YOGA? Does yoga make us healthier? These questions were explored  by National Geographic in a special health issue. Now that yoga is a $80 billion dollar industry, the article looked at why yoga has become so popular and examined the science that proves yoga does reduce stress, promote well-being and improve sleep. The article includes multiple interviews, and focuses extensively on one local organization: Yoga 4 Change.

Founded in 2014 in Jacksonville, FL, Yoga 4 Change (Y4C) has a mission to offer trauma informed yoga to four populations: veterans, youth, individuals who are incarcerated  and those recovering from substance use. The organization has been teaching yoga in all three Duval County Correctional Facilities since 2016 and Y4C programming was researched from February 2018 through February 2019 with a grant from the Chartrand Family Fund. The research was led by Boston University and the outcomes indicate significant improvements in measures of health, sleep quality, coping skills, forgiveness, self-compassion, emotional regulation, anger management, and post traumatic growth. 

Y4C  recently expanded to three additional regions, South Florida, Tampa Bay and Central Florida, specifically to study the impact yoga has on the opioid crisis.  The opioid crisis is the main subject of the January 2020 National Geographic magazine with a feature article on yoga.

National Geographic writer, Fran Smith, reached out to Y4C in 2019 with great interest in learning more about the Y4C programming inside the correctional facilities.   Smith followed Y4C Executive Director, Kathryn Thomas, around for 2 days; attending yoga classes, interviewing individuals who are incarcerated, local judges, the Y4C research team and teachers.  Smith got an insider’s look at the compilation of Y4C classes, how they are set-up, the thematic approach and the trauma-informed guideline. The newest issue of National Geographic, on stands now, is themed around the mysteries of pain, the opioid crisis and features an article titled “why our fast paced society loves yoga”.  

“It is a real honor that National Geographic expressed curiosity on our mission and our research, and made the effort to include us in the article” says Thomas. “Everyone involved in the Duval County carceral yoga programming was excited to participate and proud to show the program to the world and equally proud that our community  has come together through the practice of yoga.” Duval County is the only county in the nation that sentences individuals to yoga programming while incarcerated.

The special issue on The Future of Medicine: Wellness, is online now and on newsstands beginning December 31st.  

Thank You all for your continued support.  Together we are creating change.


Thank You.  Thank You.  Thank You.


Men's Yoga inside the Montgomery Correctional Ctr
Men's Yoga inside the Montgomery Correctional Ctr
Yoga inside the Jacksonville Jail
Yoga inside the Jacksonville Jail
January National Geographic
January National Geographic
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Hello Community!

This update comes from our Jacksonville location.  Currently we are teaching six classes per week in three carceral facilities, consisting of students who voluntarily choose to come to yoga and by individuals who are court sentenced.  Our trauma-informed yoga programming is offered to both men and women at the following facilities; Montgomery Correctional Center, Community Transition Center and the Jacksonville Jail. After a recent class, we received an email from a Chief at the Jacksonville Jail.  The quote below is from the first class he had observed at the Montgomery Correctional Center. 

 "Y4C is truly making a difference in the lives of your students. I feel yoga is providing them the ability to make healthier decisions when they’re in-tune to themselves. Some of these young folks have not invested in themselves in years. Y4C is affording them the opportunity to reinvest in themselves through healthier behavior choices, self-evaluation and so much more…. I get it… really. Thank you and your team for the partnership. "

It's a real honor to be seen and supported.  Thank You all for supporting our mission and seeing the potential our organization has to create change.  We appreciate your time, financial funding and constant support. We are grateful!

Thank You,

The entire Y4C Team


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Organization Information

Yoga 4 Change, INC

Location: Atlantic Beach, FL - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @yoga_4_change
Project Leader:
Breanna Tivvis
Atlantic Beach, FL United States
$13,744 raised of $57,000 goal
116 donations
$43,256 to go
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